Monday, May 31, 2010

Cairo, the 31st May, 2010

Isadora Duncan ditto

Isadora Duncan wrote:

"The wind? I am the wind.

The sea and the moon? I am the sea and the moon.

Tears, pain, love, bird-flights? I am all of them.

I dance what I am.

Sin, prayer, flight, the light that never was on land or sea?
I dance what I am."

Cairo, the 31st May, 2010

Just a starting point...

The movements, steps, combinations and the overall tecnique you may learn in this dance are not the goal of the learning process. They are just vehicles to transport you into higher places and to find a REAL movement that can express all that words and music alone CAN NOT.

Everything you learn from (even) great teachers is not the ultimate goal of the dance but a door to open your own UNIQUE creativity, personalized movements and expression and SOUL.

Practicing what I teach gives me a heck of a pleasure!
Cairo, the 31th May, 2010


- over and over again for inspiration - one of my all time favourite songs: HUMAN NATURE (from Michael Jackson, who else?!).

An amazing book hidden between shelves of undistinct matters. The book's title:

Sacred Dance in the Ancient World

And the author is:
W.O.E. Oesterley

I am a book chaser and even I never heard about this book but the subject is very dear to me. The goal of my professional life in this world has been, from the beginning till now, to show - in the shape of shows, seminars, workshops and writing - that Oriental Dance is, in fact and per excellence, the art of connection humans between each other and between humans and their Divine dimension.

Will dig into the book and will send back news about it.

Cairo, the 31st May, 2010

Against the tide...

Even in the way I dress...always against the tide!
When it seems all the feminine side of the world is taking time and lots of resources to leave their home looking their best, here I am trying to figure out how I can look so awfully dressed that no f..... man will bother me in the street.

Today I think I almost, almost succeded! Almost...YES!!!

I should have taken a photo of myself then because I would be listed as the worst taste Oriental Dancer in the world and the icon of NON-GLAMOUR!

Fair description of the outfit (destined to scare sexual harassement away in the streets of Cairo):

1. Indian slippers. Maharaj's style. Groovy...

2.Old Levi's jeans whose once blue tones have already faded into a strange white fabric that doesn't resemble anything human beings usually wear (except when these human beings are doing one of those Guiness Record all around the world walking with the same pair of jeans feats or when they are aliens from Mars with no common sense or notion of beauty). Creepy...

3. Old egyptian t-shirt with fabric hanging from everywhere (covering the critical zone of my african derriere). The message in the t-shirt says: Rocky Girl
It should say: I went nuts Girl.

4. Hat and sunglasses which most taxi drivers in Cairo would not dare to wear. Sooooo...kitch and not matching AT ALL the whole horrific ensemble.

Conclusion: The terrible outfit didn't stop harassment in the streets but, at least, made the offenders a little afraid I may be a lunatic ready to throw myself on their necks when the first word comes out of their dirty mouths.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Cairo, the 28th May, 2010

If you happen to be in Cairo during the month of June

You don't want to miss my NILE MAXIM's shows (Zamalek, in front of Marriott Hotel).

You don't want to miss my private classes showing you a bit of the REAL THING, first hand information from someone who's been here long enough to know what she's speaking about.

You don't want to miss my BOMBASTIC SHOW at the Closing Gala of the greatest Oriental Dance Extravaganza Festival in the world:
AHLAN WA SAHLAN (30th June, Mena House hotel).

You may not wanna miss the Giza Pyramids too (but that's optional!):) LOL
Cairo, the 28th May, 2010

Feet on the ground

If there's a valuable thing my mum always taught me it's the value of having my feet well established on the ground.

No fame or success can take my feet off the ground. Thanks to my family.

The day I feel - as a silly person I can, sometimes, be - more than anyone in this life, that's the moment I stop being an Artist.

Soul and mind always up THERE but FEET, MY FEET are always down here, on the wet or dry land.
On the ground.
Being held by the roots that remind me of my Humanity.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Cairo, the 28th May, 2010


In order to create again and again, I often need to retreat into the deepest part of my coocon.
I really admire artists who can keep it out there all the time! They socialize after work, they make connections and working friends (if you catch my drift!)and they seem tireless when it comes to being between the crowds after exposing themselves in their work.

Why can't I do the same?!
Oh, well...that will be left as an enigma yet to be solved.

I need to retreat to my coocon.
Sometimes it gets too dark in there, too gloomy and over the top realistic (almost too much to take!) but that's the point from where I always reborn into a new LIGHT, a new energy and divine information to create from my Soul.

I am currently in my cocoon phase.That's official.
Trying to force myself out of it before the right time will have disastrous consequences.
Returning to the darkest zones of my soul so that I can emerge and see the real LIGHT once again.

Whenever God wants.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Cairo, the 26th May, 2010


My Shows in Cairo (NILE MAXIM, weddings, events).
Rehearsals for bigger flights (oohhh, God! Here we go................).
Thinking and thinking.
Programing (the part of it that can be programed).
Organizing (the part of it that can be organized).
Sticking to my own guns (and thanking God for them).
Hard work.
Being prepared ( it seems I will never be...).

This is the time for IT.
Traffic in my head.
Traffic in my heart.
Traffic in my soul.

Cairo, the 26th May, 2010

Egyptian food at the Hussein

Ahh...I almost forget the simple pleasures of living in Cairo.
Local food is one of them.

Getting so messed up with constant work and pressures doesn't leave me any extra time to just enjoy.
Plus my need to retreat to my own cocoon of silence and privacy doesn't help when I happen to have a rare moment of leisure.

Having family or friends in Cairo forces me to enjoy what I already took for granted and almost forgot.
Today we returned to Naguib Mahfouz coffee-shop at the Hussein, I had a huge - great steam releasing - street fight with vendor in a baladi market and had tea with old friends at music shop.
This was an unusual day for me.

No make-up. No production. Just enjoying the local pleasures.
I was, once more, a more or less curious visitor in my hated/beloved city of Cairo.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Cairo, the 25th May, 2010

The beauty of Oriental Dance

The most amazing thing about working - in the hardest of ways - in the world metropole of Oriental Dance is to find out ALL about the subject.

The best thing about the whole experience - and past are already four years of daily work coming from my body and soul - is to find out about the REAL THING and try to do it over and over again, no matter the circumstances.

It's great to build a name in the market- both in Egypt as in the world - and I would be lying if I said I don't want that. But, for me, that's just a consequence of talent, hard work and ART proven on a daily basis in the hardest stage in the world: the egyptian.

It's an undescribable pleasure to find more about Oriental Dance on a daily basis. Those moments when I go...Ahhhhhhh....Now I get it.... multiply and I feel rising, rising, rising towards a sky with no end.

That's the great gift for all the sacrifices and tribulations: finding out about the AMAZING SOUL and mechanisms of Oriental Dance and Music.

I really get a kick out of it.

Cairo, the 25th May, 2010

Talking of spies... and detectives...

In the sequence of my last - realistically sour - posting, here's the shocking news I have for everybody who follows my blog but doesn't admit it (or are self-proclaimed detractors of my persona and/or work):

There is a program that gives me all daily details of the visits my Blog receives.
What I mean by this is that I know, one by one, the identity of all my visitors.
Thanks God for internet last technologies. I can now laugh at the ones who pretend they don't follow my blog just to discover they check it EVERY DAY and at what time (and you know who you are).

I can only thank for the preference and faithfulness to my dear Blog and sorry for the heart attack I just caused on some of you.
My (hidden) admirers are simply the BEST!
Cairo, the 25th May, 2010

The effects of Envy

What surprises me the most in the hard environment of Cairo belly dance competitive scene is to find dancers I (used to) admire taking their time to screw me on the back, sending their assistants/musicians/family members to spy on my orchestra,show programs and such.
It's bad enough that there is no unity and generosity between dancers. I thought that was bad enough but's just TOO much!

This REALLY surprises me.
It surprises me because I still hold on to a naif idea that all great artists are great people (not true!).
It surprises me because these dancers have help - all kinds of help - more than me 100000 times and they shouldn't bother so much about me.
I am not that important, I guess (although, for them, I seem to be VERY important!).

I receive police complaints every week, I have my bags checked for drugs in my backstage room, I deal with spies who know - better than me! - which musicians I choose and which musicians send away. They know what I dress and which songs I am dancing these days...this really surprises me and creeps me out.

I have other orchestra's chiefs calling - disguised as friends - asking me details about my work and mafias checking my back as if I was f......Queen Elisabeth of England and I just don't get it.

Wake up, PEOPLE!
Instead of checking me up on a daily basis ( I am not that interesting, really...), why don't you keep your mind on your own business?
Wouldn't it be more inteliigent and productive for you if you concentrated on yourself and, therefore, improved your own work?!

I just don't get it, I sware by God! This Joana chasing looks ridiculous to me, specialy when I don't give a damn about what other dancers do or wear. I am too busy with myself. I am too busy growing up.

I wish we ALL did the same (and please, no more calls from disguised friends asking for juicy details about my mouth is totally shut from now on. I guess I have to become what I always hated (a bitch!) in order to protect myself).

Oriental Dance would grow if all professionals were, indeed, PROFESSIONALS more worried about their work than their envy and fragile egos.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Cairo, the 24th May, 2010

What I can't live without

1. God and the Faith in It (inside me, around me, under and above myself).

2. You (and you know who you are).

3. My babies (they also know who they are).

4. My family and few TRUE friends (though far, always near).

5. Dance and music.

6. Beauty and Art in all shapes and forms (always from the inside out, never the opposite).

7. My monthly delight: Oprah Magazine (my only reading non-negotiable addiction). Give a sunny beach, a minimal bikini, a huge sea in front of me and an Oprah Magazine and that's all I need to forget about the world.

8. Books.

9. Traveling.

10. Passion. Another non-negotiable feeling in my life. The day I will not feel passionate about something and/or someone, I will die. Simple as that.

11. Michael Jackson in my backstage room. To warm up (with my own ridiculous moon walking -yes, yes, I do it! - and the whole deal), to remember why I am in the music/dance business in the first place and to remind me what Genius is all about.

12. Love, LOVE, love.
Cairo, the 24th May, 2010

What I can't live without (in Cairo)

1. My occasional sushi with friends to counterbalance the local egyptian presence in my daily life (it can be way toooooo much).

2. My mocha coffees to give me power to deal with so many impossible obstacles. I don't feel the need to take caffeine anywhere but in Cairo (go figure why!).

3. Egyptian tea with mint. So common, simple, all times present and - by now - indispensable.

4. Egyptian summer nights. The best in the world (you would have to experience it to know why).

5. Mangoes, guavas and all the fruits that taste better here.

6. The Nile near from Assuan (famous river Nile, dirty in Cairo but magical near Luxor and Assuan).

7. Egyptian music and dance (obvious reasons).

8. Il Khoury's palace Darwish show in the Hussein. SOul is still there, the spirit of the music is still there.
The only show I totally recommend in Cairo (it's sad that there aren't dance shows which compete with it right now).

9. Breakfasts in Sakkarah with peasants.

10. Sahlab. White, creamy, sweet traditional drink that makes my day when everything seems to fall apart.

11. Egyptian sense of humour. Making me laugh, forget the pains and tribulations.
Making everything - even tragedies - lighter.

12. Surprises. The unexpected. No other country does it so well (tragically well!). You never know what will hit you on a daily basis.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Cairo, the 24th May, 2010

Weird morning

Maybe it is the weather (strange, and cold,cold and hot, no sense to it), maybe it is the complexity of everything I want to do NOW (maybe for yesterday), maybe it's just the stress or me. My complex ME!

I don't know why but today I woke up at 5 o'clock in the morning and couldn't get back to sleep. I drank my milk, I read and wrote, I tried to fall back asleep but nothing happened.

I felt an urge to dance and I did. Then I stopped.
I remembered yesterday's shows and how I excelled myself and lost some of my limitations on the way (Thanks God for those inspirations and points of Light).
Earning that spot where I can already explore my DANCE beyond technique and everything that is expected of me is something I am proud of and want to do more of it...

Danced an old Om Kolthoum song that touched my heart.
Cried on stage - no acting, pure FEELING - and meant every single word the song said. My audience felt with me and I could just pause, relax, let the moment happen and sizzle...I was in no hurry to do stuff, to prove I know, to impress...I was just HONEST.

Then the applauses followed but what's better than that, for me, is the moment when I am totally connected with the music and the audience. And then all EGO is gone. I am not a star and I don't feel that I have to do GOOD. I am myself and truthful to the music and what it makes me feel.

Now I turn on my last Michael Jackson cd - with some JACKSON 5 goodies - and eat some bread with cheese.

All is fine. More than fine. And God is in me.

It has been a weird morning...
I guess it's from the weather.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Cairo, the 21st May, 2010

Step by step

Falling in that comfort zone where everything seems settled and, so obviously successful, is something I don't ever want to do. That seems to be the begining of the end.

Whenever I reach to a certain mountain top, I start searching for other mountain tops and I don't even call it ambition.
I call it wanting to be better in my job, in life, inside myself, in the world. I call it hunger for learning and prospering.

One can always do better, always.

Knowing that is a kind of mentality totally alien to most egyptian musicians is something I've been struggling about since I started to work in Cairo.
There is a kind of boredom, loosing feeling about musicians here that tells them that it's not worth to make an effort. It's not worth to do something new. It's not worth to create. Just make the bucks and return home to deliver them to your materialistic wife who is, on her part, waiting for the daily pennies to feed her vanity and the household (usually with many kids to support).

I've been fighting the egyptian system of the dancing field for too long and all by myself.
I fought against the prostitution circles, I fought about the disrespect towards dancers and musicians ( very often to my own harm) and all the things you, as a dancer, are supposed to do in order to prosper in your career.
Never sold my soul to the devil and, thanks God, grew and grew and grew but, sometimes, I just feel exhausted. Going against the flood all the time can get to you. And it does.

I've not been fighting JUST the dancing lobbies and dirty systems, I've been fighting the whole society's prejudices. I've been fighting ignorance, boredom, a clowd that baths all musicians, empresarios and such I encounter and who have given up creating because they quit.

Until now, I've been the body, motor and wheel of the whole train. No supporting hand on any level. Only obstacles.

I guess I have the right to feel tired. And restless.
Because, no matter how bored and weak co-workers might be, I am the one - with God's help - who defines the next mountain to be conquered (and I will).

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Cairo, the 19th May, 2010

My own Fan Club (created by generous dancers from Argentina)

I have to thank Victoria Ayub and Sabrina Colman (both argentinian dancers)for creating my new Fan Club.
I confess this fanclub would never cross my mind and I would NOT do it for myself EVER...I'm just way toooooooooo portuguese for that...we always think in humble terms and rarely feed our egos, even when we're GOOD at what we do.

So...someone else did it for me and didn't even asked me about it. They just went on and DID IT from their hearts.
After all the incredible success in Latin America, this sign of appreciation came like a gift from HEAVEN.

I am honoured and thrilled with people's appreciation for me and my work.
Thanks so much to the girls who created the Fan club (search for it and join in at FACEBOOK ) and to everyone who has already gathered around this tenderness gesture.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Cairo, the 16th May, 2010

New shows in Cairo - NILE MAXIM - and preparations for AHLAN WA SAHLAN BIG show

Back to my normal life in Cairo! Normal would be a strange term to define my life in Egypt but it is what it is.

It has been hard to detach myself from all the acclamation and tenderness towards myself when I was in Latin America...applauses coming from the heart are the best fuel you can give to an ARTIST.

I am forever thankful for the appreciation I've received and looking forward to give more and better.

Now I am concentrating again on all that needs to be done, back to my regular ( that I try to make not-regular at all!) shows in Cairo and the big BOMB I am preparing for the biggest Oriental Dance event in the world: AHLAN WA SAHLAN FESTIVAL.

No time to think of the past.
Breath. Reboot.

Do it ALL from scratch, as always.
One never knows enough. Or anything, for that matter!

Cairo, the 16th May, 2010

My own Latin America - Part V

Me, in different situations in SENOR TANGO.
I was in heaven over there.In love with music, dance and a different sub-world that fascinates me.

Cairo, the 16th May, 2010

More images from my own Latin America - Part IV

1.Me, posing with my beloved bandoneon painted on the wall.

2. Me posing with Tango composer CARLOS GARDEL, the most famous figure of Tango.

3. SENOR TANGO, the place where I watched a great Tango show (loved the orchestras more than the dancers, as usual...).
My friend Sylvia showed me Buenos Aires by night and so much more.For that I will always be thankful to her.

Cairo, the 16th May, 2010

My own Latin America - Part III

1.Me, posing with argentinian Literature Nobel Prize winner: Jorge Luis Borges.

2.Me posing with one of my favourite instruments: el bandoneon.

3. Hilarious moments with Mayra and Gena, the Belly Dance Superstar of the moment (and, who knows, of Eternity?!) in Buenos Aires.

Cairo, the 16th May, 2010

Images of my own Latin America - Part II

Unforgettable moments:

1.My first Tango lesson. David was the teacher and I was the stranger in this new world where I do not command all my troops as I do in Oriental Dance. Very challenging dance for me (that's why I am already searching for tango lessons in Cairo).

2. Me, Mayra Huzid (from InfoArabe organization and also a dancer herself) and famous Gena (Mayra's baby boxer which has become more famous than Obama).
We were at Mayra's home in Buenos Aires where I had my first home made food in town and my first tango lesson (gift from Mayra!).

3. Posing besides a wall at Senor Tango (where I heard the best bandoneon orchestra alive on planet Earth all composed by old gentlemen who caused a riot in my heart). The painting on the wall portrays a musician playing bandoneon (typical instrument used in Tango, from the family of the accordeons).

Cairo, the 16th May, 2010

Images of my own Latin America

Me and the bandoneon (main instrument used in Tango), one of my all time instruments. A passion of mine.

Buenos Aires's gorgeous parisian style patisseries. Spread all over town. Lovely...
Cairo, the 16th May, 2010

Temperatures rising in Cairo...

Ohhh...Summer is here.
I woke up immersed in sweat today and realized Summer has arrived to Cairo.
Being a Summer person, I cannot complain. Let's enjoy it,right?!

So damn hot!!!
Already dreaming about a swimming pool or the sea...water, water, water.

Welcoming the summer in Cairo with a huge smile.:)

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Cairo (Egypt), the 12th May, 2010

Home again and the greatest flood of love from Latin America...

The disturbing thing about me is this strange contrast between an overly emotional heart and an ability to be everywhere with no one or everyone.

I seem to be cold as ice and, at the same time, warmer than the Caribbean sea.

Another disturbing thing about me is that I feel at home pretty much everywhere but there are some precious individuals - not places or objects - that turn a home into an all-time MUST RETURN hot spot.
That applies to my family's home in Portugal where I have all the references that link me to the ground as well as my own home in Cairo, symbol of all my struggles and achievements.

After what it seemed to be an endless treap (from the mountains inside Medellin, Colombia to Bogota, also in Colombia and then from Bogota to Madrid where I spent a full day getting to know the airport's shops better than the palm of my hands and then, finally, Madrid to Cairo), I finally got home.

I had already had a preview of the impact my work (both workshops and shows) had on people in Colombia and Argentina but nothing could have prepared my heart for the flood of love I received via email and Facebook alike.

I've received hundreds - no exaggeration - of messages from men and women who shared some of my work in Colombia and Argentina. The appreciation, respect and love I've been receiving leave me breathless.

More often than I'de like to admit, I have cried reading these messages.
I guess my work - teaching and performing and, probably, writing - reflect not only my Art and vision of dance but also all the battles I had to win in order to arrive where I am today, sane and alive.

I suffered practicaly everything a human being can suffer and got disappointed with people around me more than anyone should ever get but, in the end, my plutonic nature transforms everything dark into Light I am: stronger than ever, proving so much to myself and to others who think you have to sell your soul in order to succeed (NO, you DON'T!).

Nothing - except God! - helped me in this journey.

I had much more obstacles than hands pushing me forward and up but, right now, the result of all the joys and incredible pain I lived in the past make part of my body, memories, soul and that's all I share with my audiences.

The fact that I had very little help from people around me also made me a better person. I had to be better, transcend myself and my own limitations and rise exclusively through my talents and hard work.

My dance is the result of all I've lived and for that I am thankful.
People end up feeling all I've ever lived through my dance and the result is umpredictably AMAZING.

I can only thank God, first and above all, and everybody who attended my shows/workshops for their appreciation and love.
I am speechless. In a very, very cheesy moment (but heartfelt one), I dedicate Michael Jackson's song, Speechless, to everybody.
Search for it in the Youtube. Its words are not mine but they say exactly what I mean towards all of you.

Your love is magical, that's how I feel...
But I have not the words yet to explain...
I am speechless...speechless...that's how you make me feel...
When I'm with you I'm lost for words...

Madrid (Spain), the 12th May, 2010

Returning to Cairo after Latin America... A new me with a new strenght!

Traveling gives me these priceless gifts: knowledge, flexibility, inspiration, understanding for other people's differences and new Lights into the things I CAN and WILL do.

These festivals where I taught and performed were an eye opener for me. I realized, maybe for the first time since I moved to Egypt, that my work and the message underneath it DO make sense in a way that is bigger than myself.

My work was received with such enthusiasm, respect and appreciation that I am left with a single conclusion: I MUST GO ON. And do more of what makes sense to me without fearing if the world will accept it or not.
When you speak and create from that point of yourself that is ALL about TRUTH/LOVE, people recognize it by instinct. When you do your work and accomplish your mission from your Soul, other people's soul also recognize it.
These treaps showed me that.

The applauses, photos and compliments were amazing. My ego was delighted, I must admit. But, beyond my ego, my heart and soul were full of hope and the certainty that bigger dreams can be achieved.
I only ask God's help for the journey. The rest is on me.
Copacabana (somewhere hidden in the mountains of Medellin, Colombia), the 11th May, 2010

Life choices - could I just disappear into these green colombian mountains?!

The world would move just as well and no big harm would be done.
What a wonderful way of ending my Latin America working treap...
Inside the green and luxurious mountains of a little pueblo called Copacabana in the roundabouts of Medellin, Colombia there are many gorgeous fincas - farms, in spanish from Colombia - and I was invited to one of them.
Colombia and its Nature, indian roots and luxurious sensuality conquered my heart.
I will always be a rustic at heart!
Set: The farm, in one of the pueblo's hills (I am in heaven...).

Everything here reminds me of my roots, my peasant roots. All that is realy worth and all that reminds me of who I am - just another regular, fragile human being - and that we all come from dust and to dust we will return.

Leaving in an extremely competitive world and achieving goals, giving this image of someone who CAN, someone who works and wins is something I've managed to do quite well and I do not complain about the downside of success but, occasionaly, I long for a place where I can be my simple self. Myself.
This is that kind of place.

I was received by Luz and her family with such tenderness and, for moments that tended to expand into hours, I asked myself what would happen if I just disappeared from my normal outside world and just stood here, inside these mountains, surrounded by nature and silence.
I don't know if I would like that on a long term but the temptation of getting away from the violence, exposure and constant hassle of my own world was huge.
I slept at the farm with a depth I don't remember to enjoy, probably since my childhood.

Waking up, I could breath the clean, fertile air of the mountains and checked the horses, cows and other animals rising up along with the sun.

I kissed the dogs, I personaly greeted a fat GOOD MORNING to each one of the horses (one of them, recently arrived, is called Portuguese Emperor!), I looked at all that beauty and asked myself again: what if I turned myself into a paisa (paisano, the spanish word for peasant) and left all the world behind?
What if I replaced the battles and victories for a much simpler life of earth, animals and vegetation?

What if I married - not only loved, but married just to challenge my own prejudices and volatile for sures - a gaucho and dressed like a cowgirl for the rest of my life, raising a bunch of kids between the corn fields, the horses and the fountains?!
Life has so many options, that's for sure. You always long for what you don't have.
Trying to find a middle term to this whole dream, I guess it would be quite nice to retreat from the outside world once in a while, just once in a while...

Not forever but whenever I felt the pressure was too much to take and longed to reconnect with the human/natural part of a HUMAN BEING like me.

Am I just trying to Nature or simply return to myself?
Both, I guess. Because they're both the same.
Lima (Peru), the 10th May, 2010

Taxi Dance in Buenos Aires and all the city left in my heart

Just before leaving Buenos Aires, a deliciouly sticky information fell on my lap:
There is a famous service in the city called Taxi Dance and it consist on professionals Tango dancers (I don't know how professional they are but that's another story) who are hired by non-dancers to be taken into town and danced with the night away.

Yes, you read it well.

Someone arrives to Buenos Aires and doesn't know how to dance Tango or where to go to dance Tango. These taxi dancers will take you to milongas and other tango venues, teach you (Tango and, probably, another types of dancing...if you know what I mean...:) ) and be your dance partner for the period you pay for.
I laughed a lot along with this information. The concept strikes me as funny, original and a little tacky (how much of it is a mix of dance partnership and/or prostitution?!).

I inquired some friends and they told me this service is mostly requested by old ladies who come to Buenos Aires alone. (?!).
What if in Cairo they landed the same concept but applied to Oriental Dance:
Taxi Belly Dancer?
You would hire a belly dancer - or something like it - and she would dance with you and for you in exclusive.
Oh, wait! They already have that service in Egypt (and all the Middle East, for that matter). They just don't name it Taxi Belly Dancer. They give it another, somehow harsher name. Well, not commenting on this one. Enough of dirtiness for now.

I just hate when dance is used for other purposes that are not ARTISTIC (exception for the whole wife-husband-wife home made lap dance...I think that's great!).
This added info left me even more confused and made sure I had my little dirty look, that showing cynical part of me that doesn't believe in Santa Claus anymore.
In the middle of laughs, applauses, tango research and hundreds of kisses, photos, compliments and an incredible flow of appreciation I thank God for, I managed to miss Buenos Aires and, as it happens with almost every city I visit, I easily saw myself living here.

I thank the event's organization for the opportunity to share my vision/work with these warm - and touchy!!!- argentinian audiences/students and I thank my friend Silvia for showing me a bit of the Buenos Aires of my dreams.

Buenos Aires (Argentina), the 9th May, 2010

Last class of Tango in Buenos Aires

Have I become a prude? A little bit muslim, perhaps?
Am I a control freak?!

Yes, I am (the answer to this one is kind of obvious). I control all my life, the direction of my career, my work team, the private relationships I cherish and protect from harm,etc. I control everything around me except for the part where God/Destiny/Universal Order commands (which is 80% of it all, I presume...).

Why am I perceived as a sexy tiger released on stage - not my words, folks! - and perform in what it seems to be, in the world's public opinion, the sexiest dance in the world and, suddenly, I feel so shy to dance TANGO?!

I've mentioned it before: As I dug into Buenos Aires Tango scene, I found out what I already suspected: Tango is 1000 times more sensuous and sexual than Oriental Dance.

I also found out another tricky question: being an Oriental Dancer who is used to choose what to do with the music, how and when to move on my own terms is not easy to enter a new dance discipline where the MAN (not me) decides where we will go, when and how. Letting someone else take me by his arms is a difficult thing to do, in life as in dance. Tango, as opposite to Oriental Dance, is a male-authority dance and, therefore, a huge challenge for someone - like me - who totally denies any kind of authority over herself.
Here's a new territory to explore!

Back to the sensuality part of the subject:
More flesh is exposed in Tango, the woman is carried around by the man in what it seems to be a poetic preparation to passionate love making and both feet move along speaking of fire and encounters one on one.
Compared to Tango, I feel Oriental Dance - or Belly Dance - could be a recreational activity for nuns and priests at their retreated monasteries backyards. I am not joking.
Angel Coria ( - the wonderful dancer and teacher - who gave me this last tango session practicaly had to drag my hands towards his body and make me hug him like they do in was all so unnatural to me...the kind of attitude, feeling and movement I exclusively have with my man, in the privacy of our intimate space, in the context of a personal, loving relationship. Not in dance, not on stage. This resulted very hard and strange for me.
Now here's the thing: I am a professional dancer and actress. I've been doing this all my life and dance is, I suppose(???), just dance but I still had a hard time letting go and felf shy and uptight all the way.
In a dim lighted dance school in the down town of Buenos Aires (in the Broadway zone of the city), I challenged myself - again - and all my tabus towards my body and my own sexual expression.
Then I asked around and commented the subject with another dancers of the event and one of them came with a curious possible solution to the dilema: In Oriental Dance, the sensuous relationship I establish is between me and my own body so it doesn't feel so openly sexual. At the same time and because I am directly exposed to the audience, people perceive it as openly sexual.
In Tango, that same relationship happens between two separate bodies and there is an actual sexual chemistry between a man and a woman. Now that feels sexual, all right!
From the audience's perspective, though, this sensuality shared between two bodies is not so openly felt because it happens between these two bodies and not directly between a woman's body and her audience.

I get that. I may even agree with that.
What challenged and irritated me was my own limitations when it comes to sharing such intimacy with a strange man, even if this is done through dance and with artistic purposes.
I am supposed to be the belly dancer, the woman who has it all figured out when it comes to sensuality. Right?

I was so shy and blocked that I decided: as soon as I return to Cairo, I'm gonna work on this subject. Tango lessons it is.

Cause I might be an unexpected nun hidden in belly dancer's cloth but I am not a looser and this bull has to be grabbed by its horns.

Buenos Aires (Argentina), the 9th May, 2010

Medhat Salah Gomaa -
the excellence of the egyptian accordeon forgotten in Buenos Aires

My friend Souhair (Souhair Nemesis, one of Oriental Dance pioneers in Argentina and a great teacher until today) told me about the best accordionist player she had ever heard: Medhat Gomaa (cousin of my very own favourite dancer: Souhair Zaki).

When Silvia - the friend who took the time to show me a bit of Buenos Aires hidden treasures - mentioned his name, I jumped from my chair and flew away with my bag, leaving from the stylish - parisian style coffee-shop where we were having dinner towards the syrian restaurant Medhat Gomaa attends.
Silvia followed me as we entered a dark place full of lebanese, syrian and armenian strange people.
My goal was to meet Medhat - the musician I had heard so much about - and listen to his accordeon through his hands and heart. This was worth the treap into this restaurant.
We ended up spending the night at the restaurant talking to Medhat and trying to convince him to come to Cairo, if only for a visit. Having him as an invited artist in my orchestra would be a dream for me and an enormous pleasure to my own musicians who seem him as a legend.

Besides the immediate tenderness I felt towards Medhat - the truth is I have a thing for musicians...they are my partners, indeed - there was another character who deserved my attention: a man/boy with down syndrome who seems to be in the scene of oriental restaurants of Buenos Aires for years. He's famous between restaurant owners, musicians and dancers as well as a passionate, all present audience and orchestra member.
He was having dinner by our side.

He talked with enthusiasm to the musicians on the stage. He also talked with his own food (the baba ghanoush seemed to be his favourite dialogue pal) and he, suddenly, got all dressed up with the kind of turbans men use in Saudi Arabia.

Then he approached the orchestra, listened with full attention to the percussionists and requested a tabla that he played with full certainty of himself.
After the tabla show, this incredible character danced with gusto to an Om Kolthoum song and impressed the whole audience - including me - with his delicious shimmy and head rolls imitating Khalleegi dancers.

No pretensions or pressures. No fears. Just dance.
I wish I could do it like that.

I also wish I could receive Mr. Medhat Gomaa in Cairo.
It doesn't hurt to try. It doesn't hurt to dream about it, does it?
Buenos Aires (Argentina), the 8th May, 2010

G-R-E-A-T show in Buenos Aires and Mario Kirlis's generosity

I can still hear the echo of the applauses at the theatre in Buenos Aires.
This was such a GREAT night and a surprising show. Kamikaze style, as usual.:)
I was a player out of his home game rules. Different audience, system of working and orchestra.
I entered the stage with no idea whatsoever of what the orchestra would do or how they played a theme by Om Kolthoum, a Saiidi, a Baladi style song and an whole tabla solo. Talk about KAMIKAZE...Who, in their right state of mental health, would throw herself on stage with an orchestra she never heard?! guessed (if you know me).
MOI memme.

There was no time for rehearsals because the orchestra had just arrived to Buenos Aires a few hours before but this was the orchestra I had on my hands (Mario Kirlis orchestra) - the most famous in Argentina and, probably, in all Latin America- and I had to make the most of it.

Life gives you lemons, make lemonade. That's me.

What surprised me the most was not the obvious differences between these musicians and my own egyptian musicians. I cannot comment on that aspect because it woulnd't be fair.

What surprised me the most was Mario Kirlis - the director of the orchestra - and his marvellous, humble approach to work. He was such a gentleman, such a generous, open hearted left me no option other than DOING MY BEST because I knew he would do his best. And he did.
I could feel these musician's respect and heart and that was enough for me.

How can I NOT love musicians if I depend so much on them?!
No, I didn't dance my best. I did 10% of what I am used to do when dancing in my territory - Egypt, with my egyptian musicians and my own egyptian audiences - but I was HAPPY on stage and that I have to thank to Mario Kirlis and his orchestra.

I also would love to thank Buenos Aires audience and students who received with such love and appreciation that they brought tears to my eyes. It's not in my use to expose private emails/messages that I receive from people who watch one of my shows or share a workshop/class with me. I do not expose them because they are private, only directed to me but I have to say that many, many messages I've received in Argentina (written or in said to me in person) have brought tears to my eyes.

Thank you, Buenos Aires.
The applauses still live inside my head. People's emotion and response to my show and workshops still lingers inside my heart and I hope it will stay there forever, renewing my faith and strenght when they, eventually, fail me.

Buenos Aires (Argentina), the 5th May, 2010

Shopping for Tango in Buenos Aires

So far, the damage is not that big...
Two pairs of brand new - gorgeous - tango shoes (which I'm planning to use in wonderful classes and milongas that will follow as soon as I arrive to Cairo), a crazy black tango top to wear during one of my workshops over here, book markers with tango lyrics (POR UNA CABEZA is one of my own Carlos Gardel favourites) and lots of ideas to use in my work in Egypt and so on...

I visited a store that seems to be like a Tango emporium and I lost my head with all the hats, shoes, clothing, dvds, music and merchandise associated with Carlos Gardel and lots of other Tango icons.
They even have a space for lessons on the first floor...

Looking forward to find Carlos Gardel and Astor Piazzola biographies as well as some nice vintage posters with emblematic images of this dance.
Also anxious to participate in my first Buenos Aires milonga (how presuntious of me this is when I only had a single class of Tango in all my life). Somehow, I know I can pull it off and I will learn fast as an eagle if I am taken inside the subject through the right hands.

Plus visiting more places where one can watch good, authentic Tango shows.
I am, indeed, a sucker for Art, Music and Dance. Is there anything better or more exciting in life other than Love and Art?!
Buenos Aires (Argentina), the 5th May, 2010

Autumn leaves in Buenos Aires

I am not a Winter's fan but Autumn leaves spread all over Buenos Aires has a beauty of its own.

In Egypt, summer is almost arriving. Over here, rainy days (coloured by the cosy parisian style coffee-shops and buildings spread all over the town) are just starting and the cold weather is just making its first appearances.

Avenues and streets are lined up european way, making me remember Lisbon so much that I often think I am in Portugal. It seems the same architecture was applied to both cities. The same artists hired to build and structure both cities...
I can see Lisbon in Buenos Aires.That's strange and, curiously, warming.
As I walk in the city's streets, the beauty of the trees and the whole tone of the city (kind of dark blue) makes me feel like I belong here.

Why do I feel that I belong everywhere?!

Why am I enjoying this argentianian nostalgic Autumn so much?
Maybe because I know I will soon come back to a sunny Cairo, right back home.
Buenos Aires (Argentina), the 5th May, 2010

My very first argentianian tango lesson and...SENOR TANGO!!!

My friend Sylvia - thank you for all your tender support - took me to the best Tango house in Buenos Aires: SENOR TANGO.
And this is all I can say: I am in love. I even phantasized leaving Cairo and all my career and becoming a tango dancer at this place (just kidding!).
The place is amazing, the show is INCREDIBLE and the orchestras are so artful that you loose your breath. Stunning.

The bandoneon - traditional instrument from the accordeon family commonly used in tango music - just stole my heart and an orchestra with musicians of an older generation made me remember, again, GOD DOES EXIST.
Dancers were very good, of course. As in all dance forms, going beyond technique and really bringing emotion to your audience is what distinguishes a regular dancer from an ARTIST.

You see a lot of feet and legs moving around in difficult, intricate, spicy patterns but what stays with you is that rare moment when your heart is touched by the dance in connection with the music. Magical...way beyond steps and smart choreographies.
The arrangements of the tangos were great, some of the interpreters were exquisite but nothing amazed me more than an old maestro improvizing with his bandoneon.
Pure Art. Pure melancholy.

Tango seems to be the shadow of Love. All kinds of shadows are in this music. This is an alley, a corner, a gutter and a middle-light lamp bringing some fight or closure to an endless love affair.
Tango is so HUMAN and that's what fascinated me about it. It speaks about passion, jealousy, weaknesses and impotence when facing the sadness or feverish moments of a great love. How can I NOT love it?!

As for my first TANGO LESSON...
I think I did well.
Everything is different and I feel like my body is stuck between the man's body.
I also feel limited by the man and the stiffness of posture and floor paterns but I am starting to get the hang of it and enjoying it.
More than everything: It's soooooooo sexy...Holly God! This is SEXY!
Never stop learning, never.

Buenos Aires (Argentina), the 5th May, 2010

Tango Versus Oriental Dance...WHY?!

There's one thing I've already understood (better said: FELT) about Tango:
Opposed to Oriental Dance, which is always associated with lack of cloth and intense sensuality (if not, sexuality), I see Tango as an openly sensual (even sexual) dance with PASSION and, potentially, ART. I don't mean it in a bad way at all. I happen to be mentally and sexually satisfied and not repressed so I can enjoy and appreciate a beautiful piece of well performed tango (with all its elements in which sexuality plays a strong role).
It's said to be a dance born in the brothels of Buenos Aires and that explains it but, thanks God, its sexual component didn't stop it from ascending to a world-wide Art form.

Again I repeat. I am a Tango lover myself ( longing to start my classes as soon as I return to Cairo).

I mention tango's sexual flavour but I don't mean it in a negative way at all.
I mean it as it is: Sexual and Sensual. Passionate. Portraying, somehow, human being emotions and physical behaviour whenever one is passionately in love (with all the joys, pain and drama of it all).
Sexuality only has a negative approach when taken by prejudices, tabus and hypocrisy. God knows how human (sexual) are HUMAN BEINGS!

It just pisses me off - just a bit though - that no one seems to bother about the lack of cloth in Tango (and Classical Ballet and so many other types of dance which use the body as an intrument and, therefore, do not hide it from the audiences) and its open sexuality and then all pointing fingers are directed (for how many centuries now?!) to Oriental Dance where dancers are actually more dressed and sensuality is not open or aggressive but subtle and transcendent.

Why is Oriental Dance so punished and target of phantasies and heavy prejudices?
It's also like someone took your heart away from your chest with their own hands and exposed it to a tempest of alternating cold and hot rains in a kind of Tropical forest I've never known before (except when making love with a man I really desire).

Buenos Aires (Argentina), the 5th May, 2010

Jorge Luis Borges, Parisian style coffee-shops, Mate, Gauchos, Tango and Meat!

Symbols of another fascinating country...
I'm sure so many other symbols are missing...I've been in Argentina only for two days but, so far, these are the ones I've been in direct contact with and all of them fascinate me.

Jorge Luis Borges. The most famous writer in the country and Nobel Prize of Literature.

Mate. Typical kind of drink made from dry, smashed elements from a common tree of Argentina. It's supposed to be diuretic and energizing. It actually tastes like green tea, only stronger.

Gauchos. As it happens in Brazil, Gauchos are the typical peasants of interior Argentina. They represent the life in the country side and all that its connected to it (lands, animals and such). The mate (drink already mentioned) is also frequently associated with them.

Parisian style coffee-shops. All over town.
Gorgeous, painting like gateaus (cakes) decorating windows and tables.
Tall glasses of cappuccinos and other treats in its full gourmet splendour covered by a staff that seems to be taken from the Titanic ship. Fancy, fancy, fancy.
Super (as argentinians would say)!
Cosy, european, chic and delicate as any good Paris bistro. Sitting and chatting along at one of these many coffee-shops spread all over Buenos Aires (seeming to be the most european city of Latin America) is a great pleasure I didn't want to miss.

Tango, obviously. So far, I've seen better orchestras than dancers. It's clear I have a thing for great orchestras. Managing my own band for four years and having worked with so many musicians from different levels and artistic backgrounds has turned me into a crazy, picky, passionate maestro. So, I tend to pay attention to orchestras more than dancers, except when these are so good that they capture my attention (=heart).

Well.Argentina is famous for its meat and lovers of the subject swear by their mum's health this is the best meat in the world. I wouldn't know, would I? (I don't eat meat).
Buenos Aires (Argentina), the 4th May, 2010

Silly flashes about Colombia

Colombia is still on mind, although I've already moved into a different world.
Here are some flashes (silly but honest ones) about Colombia (the little I knew of it):
1. From where do all those gorgeous men come?
It's like being a kid in a candy shop.:)
The staff of Avinca (colombian airline company) was breath taking.
I took a look at the pilot when traveling from Bogota to Medellin and almost had a stroke. He was GORGEOUS. I mean: G-O-R-G-E-O-U-S.
I must have looked stoned while staring at the man and I guess my mouth took several seconds (if not minutes) to be shut again.
Add to this temptation the fact that all men I met were extremely sweet, polite and romantic...Colombian women seem to be quite lucky!

2. I was also shocked with all the plastic surgery obviously performed in many, many, many women I saw everywhere. It seems to be a plastic surgery hell over there and this really left me sad.
I heard Colombia and Venezuela are the countries where this craziness is mostly seen. I could easily confirm it. It was like entering in a museum full of freaks.
Very frightening.
I find natural beauty irreplaceable.
I find self-acceptance and loving yourself a MUST for every woman in this world.
Coming from the Middle East where so many women go under the knife (mostly egyptians and lebanese), I thought I had seen it all until I reached Colombia.
Very young girls are already full of silicone in their breats, arses, face and wherever your imagination takes you.

3. Botero's paintings and sculptures made me fall in love with him.
Botero is a world wide famous sculpture and painter (originary from Medellin) who pictures mostly extremely fat women (great opposition to the plastic surgery craze I saw in Colombia).
Their voluptous bodies and natural confidence could be a wake-up call to all the latin women I met who are starving for attention and love (thinking they will find it if they operate themselves to the bones in order to fit a sexy image built in their heads, in the media, in the cosmetic surgery industry propaganda, etc).
I fell in love with this artist and bought two of his pictures reproductions.

4. Paisas is the name (coming from PAISANOS which means peasants in spanish) people give to Medellin originary people. As the name says, they are known for their farms, horses and country side style of life.
They're also associated with the drug dealing ( in-famous Pablo Escobar at the head of the subject ) and the money laundry necessary to keep up the big drup businesses.
Besides some negative prejudices the paisas carry aroung, I can honestly say I never found sweeter people than this.
Everyone seemed to be made of honey, proving that not all rumours and fixed ideas are according to the truth.

5. Sensuality is everywhere and shown in a obvious, open and - for me! - exaggerated way. The subject of Women as OBJECTS of desire connects plastic surgery with sensuality.

You can see it the streets and in the way women (un)dress to arouse men's desire. In the way they move and dance...etc.
I had to give a pep talk to the students who attended my workshop and explain that Oriental Dance is not a streap-tease dance where you HAVE to seduce men.

Oriental Dance represents the opposite of all the effort to please I saw in most latin women.
You don't have to be pudic but you also don't have to pretend you're having sexual intercourse while dancing. It's just NOT necessary and not part of the nature of this dance.

Oriental Dance represents natural, organic, effortless sensuality that comes from the simple pleasure of moving and feeling our bodies and hearts in connection to the music.
I hope the message was delivered and some of it can help these wonderful women to accept, value and love themselves more.

Buenos Aires (Argentina), the 4th May, 2010

Mi Buenos Aires querido... (part of the lyrics of a famous tango from Carlos Gradel - the eternal king of Tango!)

Oh...I just love being a globe trotter. Gipsy all the way, that's for sure.

Just arrived to Buenos Aires at 5 o'clock in the morning (coming from Colombia) and couldn't rest enough. I had to go to the street and start exploring the city.
Smell the smells, listen to the sounds and, for my surprise, find the city very similar to my natural born Lisbon. European presence is very strong and visible in Buenos Aires. It's there in the arquitecture, parisian looking cosy coffe-shops and in the general aesthetics of the city.

Mayra - a lovely dancer herself and part of the event's organization - and Martin Salvatierra - the organizer himself - received me with open arms and great sweetness.

I feel goooddddd......

Truthfully, I am hungry for knowledge, life, challenges.
And in love with my life...
So far, Buenos Aires received me with a cold, rainy weather and a smell of all the tango I am hoping to see and dance!



Preparing to perform with Mario Kirlis orchestra (famous orchestra in Latin America) and check the differences between them and my very own beloved egyptian orchestra.

I am always willing to try new things, that's for sure.
If the people I'm working with are artists, there's nothing to fear. Differences never scared me. Only lack of talent, professionalism, love and humbleness. Those are the only things that scare me and put me off mood.

Feeling VERY happy to perform with new artists and teach a lovely group of latin girls. Latin girl power to its best!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Buenos Aires (Argentina), the 3rd May, 2010

Nostalgia (missing Cairo?!) - PART II